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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Students honor Holocaust victims

    Jake Lacey / Arizona Daily Wildcat 

Pre-business sophomore Jessica Mador reads off the names of holocaust victims during a 24-hour vigil organized by Hillel.
    Jake Lacey
    Jake Lacey / Arizona Daily Wildcat Pre-business sophomore Jessica Mador reads off the names of holocaust victims during a 24-hour vigil organized by Hillel.

    A somber tone was set on the UA Mall yesterday as the air was filled with the names and ages of thousands of people who lost their lives in the concentration camps during the Holocaust.

    Beginning at 10 a.m., more than 10,000 names were recited nonstop for 24 hours by a number of students in half-hour blocks, and when the sun rose this morning, the names were still being read.

    The event was sponsored by the Hillel Foundation and continued its 14-year tradition of remembering those who perished in the concentration camps of Europe during World War II.

    The theme of this year’s vigil, “”More than 6 Million: We Stand United in Remembrance,”” was designed to raise awareness of all the lives that were lost during the Holocaust, not just the Jewish victims, said event co-coordinator Ben Ariff, an archaeology sophomore.

    “”When everyone thinks of the Holocaust, they think of the 6 million Jews that died,”” Ariff said. “”It’s really many more, 12 million overall, and we wanted to include others who lost their lives in the Holocaust.””

    Ariff, along with a few other dedicated students, spent the entire evening on the Mall, missing some classes and braving what turned out to be a windy spring evening. But this was a small thing to endure compared to the suffering of the Holocaust’s millions of victims, Ariff said.

    “”We’ll definitely be here in some form or fashion,”” Ariff said. “”If (the survivors) could make it through the things they went through, than we can definitely do this.””

    Those who stayed for the majority of the vigil were treated to a number of guest speakers, films and free coffee donated by Coffee X Change, and through all of this the names never stopped, creating a steady, morose pulse that underscored every conversation and every scene.

    Tables covered with photographs, maps showing camp locations and other memorabilia were laid out on the Mall. A field of hundreds of small colored flags was also constructed, with each flag representing 10,000 people killed and different colors illustrating the proportions of Jews, Russians, homosexuals and other groups persecuted.

    Sarah Constantine, a pre-business sophomore and the vigil’s other coordinator, said she was inspired to help organize the event after visiting some of the concentration camp sites while in high school.

    The theme of yesterday’s vigil also extended to other mass killings, including the Darfur genocide in Sudan, which was the topic of a student-led discussion in the afternoon.

    “”We wanted to address other holocausts,”” Constantine said. “”They aren’t as well-known or talked about as much, but they are happening and it needs to stop.””

    Also featured yesterday was Marie Turim, a Holocaust survivor who spent the first part of her life in occupied France as one of the “”Hidden Children”” who survived with her mother by hiding her Jewish heritage.

    Turim said communicating to others what they have been through is something many survivors like herself feel compelled to do.

    “”A lot of us went out and spoke to groups about what we had been through,”” Turim said. “”It’s important for everyone, Jews and non-Jews, to know the history, and I think it helps to put a human face on to something that just devastates you when you read about it.””

    After the sun went down, a screen was set up and movies were shown, including “”Uprising,”” which documents the Warsaw ghetto revolt of 1943, and Steven Spielberg’s “”Schindler’s List.””

    All the while, the names continued to be read.

    “”This is something we need no matter what the turnout is,”” said Jared Nager, an undeclared freshman and one of many students who volunteered their time to read some of the names. “”This always needs to be remembered so it will never happen again.””

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